You've learned how to Network Like A Pro. You've successfully made it through the cocktail party, the business lunch or the annual conference and now you have a stack of business cards. What are your next steps? Here are four tips that will help you cultivate professional relationships.
1.) Connect on LinkedIn
When you meet another professional, connect with them on LinkedIn no later than a week afterwards while the connection is still fresh in their mind. We are living in a digital world and the virtual connection after meeting in person is a step closer to staying in touch. Your invite should also include a personalized message for the contact to remind them of your meeting and who you are rather than the standard message.
2.) Contact via e-mail
If you have next steps to follow up with someone after an in-person meeting, send an e-mail with the information as discussed with your new connection. For example, if I meet you at an event and you mention your career search, and I offer to look at your resume to provide feedback, it is now in your hands to follow through so you don't lose a great opportunity. If you don't have something as specific, send a friendly e-mail with a thank you for their time and a "nice to meet you" comment. These are rare due to everyone's busy schedule and it is always thoughtful to send a personal note to set you apart from the crowd.
3.) Suggest A Meet Up
Face-to-face meetings are my favorite way to connect compared to the virtual and digital communication. If you meet someone who suggests going for coffee to discuss your career, you need to be proactive and contact the person to schedule a meeting. Not everyone will offer you their time and you should appreciate that they see value in you to offer their time. I have a new mentor this year through AWNY's Mentoring Certification Program and we are supposed to commit to monthly meetings. To take advantage of this program, I take the initiative to schedule the next meeting with my mentor to make sure we have the date saved in our calendars.
4.) Introduce your Connections
Networking includes connecting the people you know to each other. If you see a mutual benefit or synergy, introduce your connections to each other. People do this for new business, but I think it looks good when you have something to offer and hopefully in return they will do the same for you. A good friend of mine knows that I am passionate about volunteering, and she suggested I join Party4aCause (P4aC) and in exchange I have suggested contacts of mine to help give her feedback on her portfolio.
These are only a handful of tips to help you nurture a professional relationship, and you should be sure to put your own spin on these methods. Be creative and have fun staying connected while you expand your network.
About the Author
Jessalin Lam is a 2010 graduate of Baruch College with a Bachelors of Business Administration degree in marketing. After graduation, Jessalin took a position as a Sales Assistant for Empire Promotional Products. Lam was promoted to a Sales and Marketing Associate, responsible for developing strong relationships and selling various promotional products to clients such as GE, American Express, and Baruch College. Currently, she is working for Multicultural Marketing Resources performing sales, marketing and editorial assignments. In her spare time, Jessalin volunteers for Advertising Women in New York (AWNY) and The Advertising Club of NY.